Panic gripped parts of Italy when a huge blaze broke out on slopes the of Mount Vesuvius prompting local residents near the city of Naples to evacuate their homes even as firemen are fighting hard to bring the situation under control, reports independent.co.uk. Huge plumes of smoke blew two kilometers up into the air and also two kilometers wide at the top as fires raged through the forest, according to Associated Press. Italian civil protection agency has said they have pressed helicopters in an attempt to douse 18 blazes, as per abc.net.au.
Police believed that the fires resulted from human activity but did not confirm whether it was deliberately started, reports said. Italy’s local weather channel 3B Meteo, compared it with pictures of 1944 volcano eruption, which led to the destruction of three villages killing 6,000 people. Tourists visiting the Ancient Roman city of Pompeii– the famous archeological site— have been warned to stay away even as roads to the volcano still remained open.
Fearing danger an emergency plan was put in place, last year, when the Italian authorities evacuated 700,000 people from the area around Vesuvius. Authorities also fear that this fire could spread to landfill sites on the slopes of the volcano, as per independent.co.uk. Regional president Vincenzo De Luca told the news website that “Mount Vesuvius is a problem of gigantic proportions, ” and said people need to equip themselves to be prepared for any situation.
Since, Vesuvius is an active volcano there are no signs of an imminent eruption, however experts believe it is only a matter of time before it erupts again, the report added. Media reports say that the fires have destroyed hectares of woodland and pine forests in the area. This year a heat wave has spread across Italy and the country is also experiencing a drought.